Frequently Asked Questions
Utility Billing and Sewer Fees
What is a capacity fee and why do I need to pay it?
All new houses or buildings that connect to Central San’s sewer system are required to pay a capacity fee. The capacity fee is a one time fee intended to cover the infrastructure cost of linking more potential volume to the sewer system — in other words, paying the debt service for underground pipes and the wastewater treatment plant that have already been built.
What is a sewer service charge?
A Sewer Service Charge is the annual fee that encompasses the cost for Central San to collect, transport, treat and recycle or dispose of wastewater from each property that is connected to our system. It is a fee, not a tax, because it is based upon your use of the sewage system and not the value of your property.
How do I put my sewer bill in my name?
You do not need to take any action to put your sewer bill in your name. Central San’s sewer service charge is a line item on your annual property tax bill, and you will not receive a separate bill from Central San. The tax bill with our fees included is sent to the registered owner of the property.
How do I start or stop SEWER service?
Service is never turned on or off. The lateral to the property is connected to our sewer system and does not require a phone call to Central San to start or stop service. If you have a septic tank on the property that is in use to collect wastewater, you are NOT connected to the sanitary sewer system. If you wish to abandon the septic tank and connect to our system, contact Central San regarding requirements and fees.
Do i need to have my sewer line inspected when I sell my house?
Central San does not have a point of sale sewer lateral inspection ordinance. While it is encouraged to have the sewer line inspected prior to selling/buying a house, it is not required.
Sewer Line, Permits and Inspections
How do I locate my lateral?
Your home may have one of the following: A cleanout just outside of the building or just behind the sidewalk on your property which may be marked with the letter “S” or word “SEWER” on the cover; or there may be an “S” stamped on the curb in front of your property (we have observed that the “S” does not always accurately mark the lateral location.) Some older homes may not have any cleanouts or markings to help locate your lateral. Please call (925) 229-7371 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we may be able to provide an approximate location.
Who is responsible for my sewer lateral from the sidewalk into the street?
Each property owner is responsible for the entire sewer from the house to where it connects to Central San’s main sewer line. This includes both the sewer on private property and the lateral located beneath the sidewalk and street.
Is a sewer overflow prevention device (OPD) required to be installed?
Central San does require a sewer OPD to be installed in every home or property. Central San does not supply OPDs, but they can be purchased at plumbing supply stores and some national home improvement stores.
I’m repairing/replacing the sewer on my property. Why do I need to obtain a sewer permit?
Central San has permit authority and inspection jurisdiction for building sewer repairs within our service area. While the sanitary sewer is the property owner’s responsibility, any repair or replacement has to comply with Central San’s Specifications. This is to ensure that Central San’s sanitary sewer system integrity is not breached or compromised. Poorly constructed sanitary sewers may cause sewer backups and overflows that cause property damage and pose a health risk.
where can I find a qualified plumber/contractor?
A list of plumbing contractors that are currently registered with Central San is available by clicking on the current contractor list. You can choose your own by checking with the local Better Business Bureau, on-line reviews, or phone book. If the contractor you choose is not registered with us, they will be required to do so prior to pulling a permit. Central San does recommend that you get a price quote from at least three different licensed and bonded plumbers or contractors. Please check our Contractor Requirements prior to hiring a plumber or contractor.
What pipe material can I use to replace my broken sewer lateral?
The following pipe materials may be used to replace your old lateral: PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) SDR 26 or C900, ABS (Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene), Cast Iron, Ductile Iron or HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) for pipebursting. For more information, see our Approved Materials List 2022 Edition.
How quickly can I schedule an inspection?
Please notify Central San’s inspection group at least 24 hours prior to the start of work on your permit. Central San’s inspectors can be reached by calling (925) 229-7373. The inspector will contact you if necessary to confirm the approximate time.
HOW DO i GET A review AND APPROVAL of my plans?
All plans are taken in for review. Plan review turn-around times vary based on the number of submittals received. Staff will reach out if they have any questions on your review and when the plans are ready for pick up. Applicant Guide - Building Permit Review
how do i submit plans electronically?
Though we are working towards accepting electronic plan reviews in the near future, at this time we do not have electronic plan review. Hard copies of plans are required. The minimum paper size for submittal is 11-inch by 17-inch paper. Plans must be legible and scale-able.
how do i pay my plan review fees?
There are 3 methods of payment available:
- In-person with a credit card, check or cash at the permit counter before 3:30 PM Monday thru Friday, excluding holidays. Credit card payments are limited to transactions of $50,000 or less.
- By mailing in a check. Checks can be made payable to Central Contra Costa Sanitary District. The check can be mailed in to Central San Permit Counter, 5019 Imhoff Place, Martinez CA 94553. Please reference the project address and application number on the check. Prior to mailing in the check, please confirm the exact amount with the Central San Permit Counter.
- Via electronic PayPal invoicing. Please email email@example.com for a PayPal invoice to me emailed to you. PayPal payments cannot be made to Central San without us first sending you an invoice. You do not need to have a PayPal account to make a payment through PayPal. PayPal invoices are limited to transactions of $50,000 or less.
I’M BUILDING AN ADU; DOES IT NEED TO HAVE ITS OWN SEWER LINE?
Possibly. If the ADU will be part of a lot split which will result in the ADU being on its own parcel, the ADU is required to have its own connection into the public sewer main. If no lot split is proposed and the ADU will be on the same parcel as the main house, the ADU will need to connect to the house’s existing sewer lateral. The ADU sewer line cannot connect back into the house plumbing.
what are the costs involved in converting from a septic system to the public sewer system?
There can be four major costs in converting from a septic system to sewer service: sewer availability, side sewer construction, Central San Fees, and septic tank abandonment.
Sewer Availability - The first cost depends on whether a public sewer is adjacent to your property and suitable for your use. A public sewer is usually eight inches in diameter and may be located in a street or a sewer easement through private property. If a public sewer is available adjacent to your property, a developer, one or more of your neighbors, or an assessment district involving many property owners may have constructed it. Depending on the circumstances, the original installer(s) of that sewer might be owed a reimbursement (a share of the cost of construction) when a new connection occurs, or there may be no reimbursement involved. Central San staff can determine the situation with your individual property. If there is a reimbursement due, it will be collected by Central San at time of connection and disbursed to the installer(s).
If no suitable public sewer is available, you will be responsible for extending a public main sewer from the end of Central San’s existing system to your property. Central San is prohibited by law from constructing main sewer extensions for private property. Central San builds the larger trunk and interceptor sewers that transport wastewater out of neighborhoods to our wastewater treatment plant in unincorporated Martinez near the I-680/SR 4 interchange.
The cost for you to extend a public main sewer to your property can run approximately $200 per linear foot, or more, depending on the difficulty of the terrain, geotechnical concerns, need to acquire easements, amount of engineering work required, pipe and backfill materials specified, methods of construction employed, and surface restoration requirements. This estimate also includes Central San’s fees and charges to cover its expenses to process permits, review design plans, process right-of-way documents and inspect the construction work. In rare cases, you may also owe a reimbursement to the installer of “special” public sewer facilities constructed downstream of the sewer you install.
The cost of this work can sometimes be shared with your neighbors who also would benefit from the availability of a public sewer adjacent to their properties. Longer, shared sewer projects allow for an economy of scale in design and construction that reduces the cost per property, as compared to each property owner sequentially installing a separate, smaller sewer extension project. Depending on the method of financing (see Question 4), this cost may be paid directly by the property owners to the engineers and contractors they hire to do the work, or may be payable over time, either by means of privately obtained financing, or as an assessment on your annual property tax bill.
Side Sewer Construction – A side sewer is generally a four inch pipeline that runs from your house to the public sewer. A gravity flow design from your house to the sewer is preferred. Central San may allow the installation of an individual residential pump if a gravity system is infeasible. The property owner is responsible for obtaining permits and constructing the side sewer. A portion of this sewer (known as a lateral sewer) may have been stubbed out from the public sewer to your property when it was constructed. Property owners may do work on their own property, provided the trench needed for the installation will not be deeper than five feet, but construction within public right-of-ways or Central San easements requires hiring a properly licensed contractor registered with Central San.
The existing pipeline from the house to the septic tank may be used as part of the new side sewer only if it is a minimum of four inches in diameter and passes a District-witnessed pressure test. A side sewer is then constructed the rest of the way (sometimes wrapping around the house) to the public sewer. Alternatively, plumbing beneath the house sometimes can be redirected toward the public sewer so as to avoid having to construct a pipeline around the house. Alterations to any plumbing within the house requires a permit from your local building department. The cost for this work is paid directly by the property owners to the contractor they hire at the time the work is done. Central San encourages property owners to obtain at least three (3) quotes from different contractors for any proposed sewer work.
Central San Fees – Central San collects fees to cover its costs to provide services and facilities to the property owner. These fees pay for processing permit and annexation applications, inspecting the installation and connection, providing collection system and treatment plant capacity, and a portion of the first year’s Sewer Service Charge (SSC) for operations and maintenance. All but the SSC are one-time charges. Total fees currently vary from about $9,200 to $10,200 per residential unit, depending on location. These fees are due just prior to connection to the public sewer. The largest portion of these connection fees can be financed through Central San on your property tax bill.
Septic Tank Abandonment – CCEH requires that septic tanks be properly abandoned when no longer needed. The test of the existing side sewer as well as the installation of the new side sewer must be completed and accepted before the existing septic tank is removed from service and abandoned.
The abandonment process involves obtaining a permit from CCEH; having the tank pumped out one last time; removing and disposing of the lid; and filling the empty septic tank with compacted dirt or sand. Specific requirements for septic tank abandonment can be obtained from CCEH. Any costs associated with the abandonment process are paid directly by the property owner to CCEH and to the contractor at the time the work is done.
are there any financial assistance programs available for property owners connecting to sewer?
Central San’s Septic to Sewer (S2S) program provides low-cost financing to help homeowners connect to the public sewer system and properly abandon their septic tank. The program is open to residential property owners with private septic systems located near existing sewer mains within Central San’s service area (Alamo, Danville, Lafayette, Moraga, Orinda, Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek; portions of Martinez and San Ramon; and unincorporated communities within central Contra Costa County).
To learn more about the program, please complete this form.